Lockdown diaries: India as a nation will beat corona, says Ravi Shastri

Ravi Shastri, head coach of the senior India men's team, called on people to rally around each other and stay indoors to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Ravi Shastri: It would be foolish to talk about cricket in these times. It should be the last thing on your mind at the moment.   -  GETTY IMAGES

This tweet from Ravi Shastri was so typical of the man. “Stay indoors people. Crucial phase this. The only thing flying around the world like a tracer bullet is this bloody Corona (COVID-19). Stay in before the bugger gets you #IndiaFightsCorona.”

Speaking to Sportstar from his home in Mumbai, Shastri said, “There is total gloom at the moment. The thing (virus) is flying everywhere. It would be foolish to talk about cricket in these times. It should be the last thing on your mind at the moment. Safety of the people is most important. Whatever precautions have to be taken should get the priority, as said in no uncertain terms by the Prime Minister of the country without mincing words. We need to understand the gravity of the situation.”


Known for his positive approach in cricket, Shastri said, “You have to be pretty aggressive in your thinking that you can do the job. Failure should be the last thing on your mind. You're not thinking of failure but thinking 'I'm going to do it'. So that's a mindset that allows you to do what you want to do, what you can do.”

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He recalled some challenging moments from his career to drive home the point. “I took it upon myself as an opportunity to take my game to another level. The phase between 1982 to 1983, when I got that hundred in Pakistan (Karachi, 1983), and then on to 1992, I did literally everything. Went from No 10 to No 1 in the batting line up. Batted in the top three. Got wickets. Tasted success at the 1983 World Cup, 1985, WCC, 1985 Rothmans Cup, Asia Cup. All because I remained positive. Playing with SMG (Gavaskar) and Jimmy (Amarnath), I was like a sponge. Absorbing what I saw and heard. Keeping ears and eyes wide open.”

Shastri, who was never struck on the head ever during his career, also remembered some frightening spells. “The spell in Antigua (in 1983). Dilip (Vengsarkar) and Malcolm (Marshall) were having a few exchanges just before the second new ball, towards the end of the day’s play. Marshall was spitting fire. He hit Dilip on the helmet. I remember the helmet rolling almost to the wicketkeeper Jeff Dujon. Marshall got him hooking. I was the non-striker. Marshall gave it everything.”

The tour to Pakistan in 1983 taught him to be tenacious. “It prepared me to become mentally very strong. There was this match at Lahore (1984). We had batted the whole day taking very little on the pads. It was the last session when word came that now don’t let the ball hit the pads. Lalaji (Amarnath) had sent the message. Sure enough soon, I was fully stretched forward to Saleem Malik and the umpire gave me out (leg-before). A foot outside the crease. Even before I had settled Roger (Binny) was given a bad decision but Jimmy batted through and saved us.”

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On India’s recent loss in New Zealand, Shastri was candid. “It was a cycle (of so much cricket). It was decided four years ago. We left India in May last year for the World Cup and finished in March this year. Most of the boys were home for just 15 days during those 10 months. There was so much that we went through. You could see towards the end – injuries, mental fatigue but they hung in despite missing some key players. It was hard but the guys bit the bullet and soldiered on.”

Catching up on lots of things at home, Shastri counselled, “It’s a good opportunity to expand your mindset. Read a lot, try different things. Basically, slow down the pace of your life. I have not had a break for 40 years. During this fight against the virus, I am not going to be negative. I know India as a nation will beat this Corona. We have to be together in supporting the government.”